LETTER: Community deserves transparency

I began asking questions about VCA in December and, since then, the community has broadened the conversation. Following Liz Shepherd’s article on VCA, radio conversations and a VCA blog entry, the question of why the community wasn’t informed of the dissolution of the $6 million sustaining fund remains essentially unanswered. In the article, VCA stated that it was an “unfair characterization” that the community had been told that the trust would remain and that VCA never claimed there would be $6 million in the trust after construction. Documents have revealed this to be untrue. VCA explained that the trust held two volatile stocks in one sector that, when analyzed in 2014, could have depleted the trust in a “really severe” way. Per the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research, the recession started in 2007 and ended in 2009. One would suppose that diversification by a competent fund manager by 2014 would provide a solution. And there’s VCA’s comment that the community was “struggling with some of the sophistication” of language relative to the resources. Finally, VCA stated that facts surrounding the trust were “so perilous” that VCA not only did not want to inform the public, they “still don’t.”

I spent 26 years as a state and federal criminal defense legal investigator. A significant portion of my practice dealt with financial investigations. A lesson learned was if the client’s finances were so “complicated” that those finances couldn’t be explained, something was off.

VCA’s comments excerpted above and many more are but weak attempts to explain away a continued trust-breaking failure in communication. These comments continue to be elitist, patronizing and condescending to the community represented by donors, visual artists, performers and public funding agencies — the revenue sources for VCA. Islanders are not a mindless group, but are well able to understand complex issues presented honestly, transparently and without prevarication. The community deserves from VCA and every nonprofit it supports transparency in all their financial dealings. Simply put, such values are not a multiple-choice question.

— Christine Beck

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